Commitment Index Update (Training Camp Edition)

Now that all of the draft picks have signed and a number of players have agreed to noteworthy extensions, I thought this would be a good time to provide an update as to where each team currently stands with respect to Commitment Index. I will provide the final Commitment Index update for 2015 after final rosters are set, and then at the conclusion of the season I will provide the initial Commitment Index for 2016.

As a reminder, you can read about the logic of Commitment Index here and here, and the methodology here. In a general sense, Commitment Index identifies how much salary cap flexibility each team has going forward by accounting for future signing bonus proration (cap dollars that cannot be eliminated or moved under any circumstance), future fully guaranteed base salary (which can be moved, but at the expense of draft picks if the player has underperformed) and current salary cap room (which can be carried forward to negate the other items). A team that has a high Commitment Index is not necessarily in a “bad” salary cap situation, but such a team will have a lower margin for error if its current roster does not perform well and will have less capacity to take on new large contracts.

Most importantly, Commitment Index represents this information as a comparison to the average of all teams, because when teams are competing to sign players within the context of a salary cap, competitive spending disadvantages will be determined by which teams have already committed more future cap space relative to the other teams in the league.

Commitment Index focuses only on actual commitments, as opposed to nominal salary cap numbers for players who have signed large contracts. That is why a team such as Seattle can score very low on Commitment Index despite having fairly recently handed out a number of large deals to its young players. Seattle’s low Commitment Index score represents the fact that the team can get out of most of these contracts with little dead money going forward. As a result, a large Russell Wilson extension would by no means endanger the team’s salary cap picture going forward; it would merely move the Seahawks from well below average to a little above average (somewhere between New England and Houston on the table below) with respect to future salary cap commitments.

The Commitment Index table below does not include the Blair Walsh extension, and it uses estimates for recently signed Colts picks Henry Anderson and D’Joun Smith (the degree to which either of these estimates turns out to be inaccurate will not have a meaningful impact on the results):

TeamFuture ProrationFull GuaranteesCap SpaceNet CommitmentIndex

Part 1: The “Mortgaging the Future” Assertion

Part 2: The Trough Model and the Folly of “Matching Cash With Cap”

Part 3: Measuring the Mortgage

Part 4: Realizable Cap Room and Relevance Adjusted Cap Number

Part 5: Potentially Asked Questions


Bryce Johnston is the creator of Commitment Index and the co-creator of Expected Contract Value.  Bryce earned his Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center in May 2014, and currently works as a corporate associate in the New York City office of an AmLaw 50 law firm. Before becoming a contributor to, Bryce operated for 10 NFL offseasons, appearing multiple times on 610 WIP Sports Radio in Philadelphia as an NFL salary cap expert. Bryce can be contacted via e-mail at or via Twitter @NFLCapAnalytics.

  • NW86

    This is interesting stuff, thanks. No surprises there at the top, I could have pretty much predicted those top 5 teams. One thing that stands out is that IND and SEA are at the bottom – those are good teams who have proven willing to commit to top players so I wouldn’t have expected to see them there. Of course the one thing they have in common are top QB’s that are still under rookie contracts and awaiting extensions. Those extensions will shoot those 2 teams up this list and be a good illustration of what a franchise QB contract can do to a team’s cap situation.